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National Episcopal church asks SC judge to reconsider ruling in favor of breakaway churches


CHARLESTON, South Carolina — The national Episcopal Church is asking a judge to reconsider her ruling that South Carolina churches that broke away from the national group now own the diocesan name, symbols and $500 million in church property.

Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein ruled earlier this month in favor of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes. The conservative diocese and more than half of its 70 congregations left the national church in 2012 amid differences over theological issues.

But the national church on Friday filed a 180-page reconsideration motion Friday detailing mistakes it thinks Goodstein made, according to The Post and Courier of Charleston (

The motion said that Goodstein's ruling made incorrect statements, didn't fully address evidence from last year's three-week trial and ignored the relevant law.

The national church said Goodstein failed to address the freedom of a hierarchical church to govern its own affairs and she improperly ruled the state diocese was created before the national church.

The judge ruled with the Diocese of South Carolina, which long argued the case would be decided under state corporation law.

Goodstein will have to rule on the request she reconsider her ruling before any other appeals can be filed.

Immediately after the Feb. 3 ruling, both sides said they knew Goodstein's ruling would likely be appealed.

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, the head of the diocese known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, said the ruling was just one step on a long journey like those described in the Bible.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the breakaway churches said his group would move on with its mission and deal with appeals as it happened.

Both sides also left open the door to reconciliation.

Information from: The Post and Courier,

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